After a few weeks off, I’m ready to start term two of my EMBA. After going through a challenging first term, I understand how the program works, and am getting to know the professors and my classmates. This puts me in a much better position than when I started, which means term two should go a lot more smoothly.

In the spirit of the new year and a fresh start, I thought I would share my thoughts about what my plan is for this term:

Know what to study

As I mentioned in one of my previous blogs, reading an accounting textbook and taking diligent notes won’t get you very far. This term, I’ll need to assess my courses and figure out the most effective way to study. I’ll also be leveraging the math skills of my new engineering friends in the program who have a thing for numbers, Excel, and silver pinky rings.

Confidence is key

Surprisingly, after significant panic about accounting, statistics, etc., I managed to do better than I expected. I’m not saying that they were easy by any stretch of the imagination, but at least they were doable and I walked away feeling like I learned a lot of applicable skills.

Try to understand your professors’ teaching methods

I had to figure out how to learn effectively from the professors who didn’t necessarily follow the teaching style that I preferred. What’s my preferred teaching style? The lectures follow the syllabus, and expectations for assignments and exams are clear. A good sense of humour also ranks really high on my teaching style preferences, which surprisingly, was pretty consistent throughout all of the professors. As far as my other teaching preferences go, some professors followed a different approach. Rather than getting frustrated (which I did) I eventually just thought: this is the way it is, find a way to deal with it, and move on.

Assume all of the courses will be challenging, not just the ones that include formulas

This was a rookie mistake for a lot of us. Our non-quantitative classes (marketing, integrative thinking, leadership) required a lot of thinking, insight, and writing. Since this term has a much larger weighting of non-quantitative courses, I think there will be completely different challenges than last term. But I love to write and it’s a big part of my work, so I have to admit, I’m not too worried about the writing component of this term.

Get to know your group and your class

We’ve all been assigned groups of six or seven people to do our group projects with. Being part of a group is a great opportunity to get to know some really interesting people on a professional and social level. And outside of our groups, there is a whole class to get to know. I remember significant bonding taking place after our last exam of the year: “but he told us don’t worry about his class, just accounting!” Nothing beats drinks with friends after a killer exam and collectively realizing: maybe we should have worried more about statistics and operations management.

Stay healthy to decrease stress

Last term, I had a chance to think a lot about school during my workouts. It was an opportunity to de-stress and also to think about how I would tackle my upcoming projects. But when things got really hectic, I blew off the gym, and stress-ate most of my son’s Halloween candy. Then I pulled a Miranda from Sex and the City, threw it out (remember that episode?) but then, sadly, moved onto his Christmas candy. In retrospect, this was probably not the best way to deal with stress. So this term, I plan to keep up with my gym schedule, and curb my stress-induced sugar addiction. Ambitious but maybe possible? We’ll see.

Here’s to a new year and a fresh start. Is our class up for the challenge? Bring. It. On.

Jessica is an EMBA student at U of T’s Rotman School of Management. She is a communications, marketing, and public relations professional with over 10 years experience in corporate and internal communications, media, and sales. Jessica plans to hold a senior leadership position with a financial or professional services organization upon completion of her degree.

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